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Multiple objects moving along a specified path

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I have a scene where i need a bunch of objects (arrows), to follow each other. For some They need to follow a rigid path (think steps) where they would go, lets say move 10 units in x, 15 units in y, and then 10 units again in x. At other times they will need to have a more organic path. Kind of like an S shape. 

Im not sure how to approach this. If there was a way to draw a path with a spline curve, and have objects, or instanced objects be birthed, and the begening of the curve, and die at the end, that would be ideal. I know i could keyframe animate the arrows, but that seems tedious, and feels like its the long hard way to do things in this situation. 


The scene needs to be able to work in Maya as well. Can anyone help?


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